10/23 World Mental Health Day - Tuesday, 10 October
Every October organisations and communities worldwide hold events and activities to celebrate World Mental Health Day. At the University we are looking forward to welcoming trainers from RCS, specialists in workplace wellbeing, who will deliver a bilingual presentation on Mental Health Awareness, to which all staff are invited.
Colleagues are encouraged to consider how you might make space in your schedules to join this session. The Mental Health Foundation explains that it’s important for all of us to become more aware and better informed about mental health and mental illness, for a number of important reasons:
Breaking the stigma in the workplace
One of the primary benefits of encouraging open conversations about mental health in the workplace is breaking down the stigma associated with mental health issues. Historically, mental health has been something that many people have found difficult to discuss – but by encouraging a culture of open communication, employees are empowered to speak more freely about any mental health concerns, knowing they will be met with empathy and support.
Building a supportive work culture
Open conversations create an environment of trust and understanding among colleagues and management. When employees feel comfortable discussing mental health, they are more likely to seek help if they need it. This leads to the development of a supportive work culture that acknowledges mental health as a crucial aspect of overall well-being.
Enhancing employee well-being
A workplace that values open conversations regarding mental health experiences can have a significant positive impact on overall employee well-being. When employees can openly discuss their feelings and challenges, they are less likely to experience feelings of isolation or helplessness. Consequently, this can reduce stress levels, increase job satisfaction, and boost morale, resulting in a more engaged and motivated workforce.
Early detection and intervention
Open conversations also enable early detection and intervention of mental health issues. When employees feel comfortable expressing their concerns, colleagues and managers can identify potential problems and offer support at the earliest stage possible. Managers are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the new Employee Assistance Programme, now provided by VIVUP from October 1st and to recommend this to any of their team who would benefit from talking support, debt advice and wellbeing resources. All colleagues can confidentially access this service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week free of charge.
Promoting proactive mental health initiatives
An open conversation culture not only addresses existing mental health concerns but also encourages a proactive mental health approach. When employees feel they can openly discuss their mental health, they are more likely to participate in such initiatives, leading to better overall mental well-being. One such programme is our Staff Wellbeing Champions provision. This is one means by which staff are encouraged to share their worries or difficult experiences with a trusted colleague, informally and in confidence. Champions are trained in active listening and effective signposting and are available across a number of schools and directorates. This scheme a very powerful way to promote mental health whilst also contributing to the role of prevention.
Fostering empathy and inclusion
Open conversations create opportunities for employees to understand each other’s experiences and perspectives better. In May 2023 Bangor University committed to the Time to Change Wales Employer Pledge, setting out a bold action plan for the coming years which has a strong focus on the promotion of empathy and mutual support across our staff community. An inclusive and supportive environment cultivates collaboration and a sense of belonging, which are crucial elements for maintaining good mental health.
Improving communication and problem-solving
Open conversations also extend to work-related challenges, facilitating transparent and honest communication. When employees feel comfortable expressing their concerns and ideas, it improves problem-solving processes and can lead to more innovative solutions. Our HR Staff Development Schedule often lists courses to promote effective and collaborative communication, using tried and tested tools for self- reflection and confidence-building.
All colleagues are welcome to join a live World Mental Health Day Webinar, delivered by RCS on Tuesday, 10 October, 12:30pm-1:30pm, please book via Eventbrite to receive the joining link.
The recording of this session will be available via the health and wellbeing website following the event.
Anna Quinn, Health and Wellbeing Project Manager